Originally appeared at Veterans Today
[ Editor’s Note: We have no confirmation from Syria on this, but that is not unusual. Deployments like this are usually leaked and not made official until some combat makes it obvious. It takes some time for them to get into position, and their size and make up would be an indication of what their mission would be, which they don’t want out too early.
For example, there have been previous reports that Russian Special Forces would be deployed to assist the Syrian forces clearing the SE Syria area of ISIS. The justification was that if US and British Special Ops could be operating there doing that, then how could the US Coalition object to the Russians helping Syria do it. So far the US has been quiet.
But today we hear not only that Russian Special Ops are being deployed, but an armored unit and a mountain brigade. If this is true we have crossed the line from Russian “advisors” to having regular Russian military formations now on combat. I don’t think the Russians would be doing this unless the US coalition also has such units already inside Syria and engaged, but not admitting it.
The Russians have played a conservative hand in Syria to protect themselves from being tagged as an aggressor. They wait for the US coalition to escalate, and then respond to the escalation. Moscow would have a strong hand in that case if the US wanted to bring up a “Russian aggression” claim before the US Security Council.
VT is watching this potential escalation very closely, including the looming battle for control of the Syria/Iraq border which will play a critical role during the anticipated political negotiations. We see the opposition groups dragging out the peace talks to give the US coalition time to improve their negotiating hand.
If the Syria-Iraq anti-terrorism coalition has freedom of maneuver along interior lines, especially to be able to shift heavy equipment and combat forces back and forth across the border as needed, then the Balkanization of Syrian will have been checkmated other than what has already taken place with the Turkish terror proxies in Idlib and northern Syria, and the American-Kurds in the NE.
The Syrian coalition is showing with this move that it is not going to let the US coalition and proxy forces control the Syrian eastern border. The Popular Militia Forces in Iraq are well armed and highly trained now in fighting militant forces.
Everybody understands the need to not let the foreign backed terrorists get safe haven bases or secure logistics lines established that will allow them to repeat the tremendous damage they have done. The lesson learned is that it is better to just have a war if need be on the front end as that incurs less losses than the devastation Syria and Iraq have suffered.
That is the long term danger that the terror war has left us. We have more of a hair trigger situation now in nipping a threat in the bud early, and accepting the risk of a major escalation as the lesser of two evils … Jim W. Dean ]
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– First published … May 24, 2017 –
The sources further added that the Russian battalion is duty bound to fortify the Syrian Army positons in the region and seal the country’s border overlooking Jordan where the Syrian forces have recently gained the upper hand.
A military source confirmed on Sunday that a group of Russian paratroopers and special forces arrived in the Southern province of Sweida, after the US-led coalition fighter jets targeted heavily a military convoy of the Syrian pro-government forces near the town of al-Tanf at the border with Iraq.
The source told AMN that the Russian military personnel arrived in the region to advise the Syrian government troops in Southern Syria, while also helping to deter any potential response from the US and Jordanian forces that carved a niche in Sweida and Homs provinces.
According to some media activists, the Russian forces were planning to build a base along the Sweida province’s border with Jordan. Other media reports suggested that they were allegedly meant to engage the enemy forces and help the government troops capture the Iraqi border-crossing.
Lebanese Army General Charles Abi Nader, an expert in military strategy in the Middle East, told TASS on Saturday that the United States carried out a direct military intervention in Syria to prevent the establishment of the Syrian army’s control over the border with Iraq.
“There is no other explanation of the strike delivered by the US Air Force on the Syrian forces and units supporting them,” the general said, TASS reported.
He added that the border area in Eastern Syria, where the army units are carrying out offensive now, has major strategic importance.
“There is the only border crossing there, through which one can get to Baghdad now, taking into consideration that the Rutbah-Ramadi road has been cleared of terrorists of the ISIL,” the expert said.
“The goal of the US is evident – to prevent the restoration of transport links between Syria and Iraq and also Iran, which is the ally of Damascus,” he stressed.
The expert noted that a similar intervention of the US Air Force occurred in September 2016 in the outskirts of Deir Ezzur. Then, the ISIL militants used the airstrike of the US aviation to seize a defensive position on the Jebel-Sarda mountain near a military airfield, which serves as a major basis of the government forces.
As the US-led coalition headquarters reported, on May 18 the aircraft struck pro-Syrian government forces operating within the established de-confliction zone with Russia Northwest of al-Tanf. The statement claimed that these units posed a threat to the United States and its partners. Several servicemen were killed in the strike.